Boston filmmaker Alejandro Peña provides a visually stunning experience with PEDAZOS, a tale of two lovers who are thrown into a cavern after a ceremony and must contend with the flying creatures that live within. Below you can read more about Alejandro and his work.
What is your connection to the South?
I was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. I’m a second generation American with a lot of family ties in Mexico, so I grew up visiting the border and various parts of Mexico constantly. Though I live in Boston now, the south will always be my home. It is the place that molded me, cared for me, and defined me.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
Growing up my parents would hang up a lot of Aztec and Mayan art work. We would also go on trips to see the ruins in southern Mexico. At the time I only saw it as a vacation, but as I grew up ancient Meso-American culture became a fascination for me. Though my film does not depict an accurate illustration of that culture, the tribal dress, intricate ceremonies and violent religious spectacles of those ancient people definitely influenced the aesthetic. I have also never expressed my sexuality in any of my films and felt it was finally time to express an abstract version of my frustration as a teenager.
How did you start making films?
The encounter that is portrayed between the two main characters in Pedazos is something that I actually experienced in high school. At the time I felt lost and aimless. My frustration with my sexuality and a falling out with a friend of mine made me drop everything I was pursuing. A persistent friend of mine saw that I wasn’t happy and pushed me to join a non-profit program in downtown San Antonio called SaySí that changed my life. It’s a place where middle and high school students can go to create visual and media art in facilities that offer materials, equipment and guidance. Because of it’s location and the fact that it started off as a charity, the students are mostly hispanic and from lower income families. Films from alumni of the program have screened at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and the Berlin Film Festival. Being in such an encouraging environment made me start making films and push myself to go to film school.
Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
We basically had to strip a bunch of my male friends down to underwear and paint them from head to toe. The type of body paint that was used made them very cold while they were being painted. After the paint was done we would give them these crazy masks and props, then lead them to the blue screen studio. So every shoot I basically lead a parade of shivering, mostly blind, painted naked dudes holding swords and puppets. The language that I developed by accident with my DP was also interesting. Every shot required dozens of other shots to be composited with it, so things got very tricky. We ended up developing our own vocabulary that no one else understood and there were moments when I would finish communicating with him out loud and the whole team would laugh because of how cryptic we sounded. ‘Alright so Henry 2 ignores Henry 1 after big hand touches down 2B floor and stays when goat god aka big wall moves closer’.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
I am not able to attend for financial reasons, but I would love for complete strangers, even if it’s just one, to reach out to me to tell me what they thought of my film.
Why should someone see your film?
I feel like it’s very hard to see a short like Pedazos. There are many thriving media platforms online that showcase shorts to the masses, but they generally favor a certain kind of film. Pedazos is video art with a story. It’s a mess of color, influences and costumes and I think people would really enjoy watching it.